It is September 15 and I am no longer in the classroom. But my teacher friends are always, always very close to my heart. I am in seminary, you minister every day to children, and you are in my prayers. If you are tired, I am praying for you. From me in 2013, to you right now friends. You are doing good work.
It is the middle of September and you are already tired. It is scary isn’t it? This tired feeling so early in the school year. If this is what September feels like, how will we ever make it to Thanksgiving? How will we ever survive until May? There is just so much to do. So many new programs to learn, new formats to master, new IEPs and 504 Plans and accommodations to keep track of. It isn’t that you don’t want to do all of things, it is just. There are all of the things. All of the things all of the time, and every year it seems as though there is a new system in place. It will get easier, they say. Once you get used to it. You would like two years with the same program and the chance to get used to it all.
In the midst of all of this you have names, personalities, and needs to learn whether written down officially or just recently discovered. It is all you can do to keep it all straight. You remember what it was like to be sure that you could save kids one desk at a time, one lesson at a time. You remember, vaguely why you took this job. You remember the teachers who made school great for you. You still hope to be that for some of your students. You still hope you can make a difference; you just wonder if there is time to make that difference when you are so busy making lesson plans, and making sure your instruction is data driven.
You wonder if doing all the right things is really what it takes to do right by your kids. You’re tired, and you feel a little bad about that. You don’t want your students to have a teacher who is tired. You want them to have the best.
I know it is hard right now. But please remember, what you do matters. Desperately, you matter. I don’t want that to be one more thing that exhausts you. One more reason you do too much. Just showing up matters. You are doing a good thing.
Education is the quickest way out of poverty. It is still the best way to get a leg up in this world. 75% of prisoners don’t have a highschool education. The more success a kid can have from kindergarten all the way through high school, the more likely they are to avoid jail. I need you to remember that, you keep kids out of jail. Wanting to be there, showing up coffee in hand and a little low on sleep is making a huge difference in the world. You matter.
I know your classes are maxed out in a way they have never been before (and three years ago wasn’t even legal). I know the curriculum gets pulled out from under you just when you are able to stand on it without wobbling. I know that the paperwork is enough to drown in. I know. But I also know you matter. What you do is important. It saves kids from going to jail. I just want to make sure you know you make a difference.